Swaraj meets GCC ministers, pushes India-GCC Free Trade Agreement

New York, Oct 1 (IANS) India continued its mission to cement ties with the Arab world as External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj held talks with her counterparts from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) whose nations she said were “an extended part of our neighbourhood”.

At the meeting here on Wednesday, Swaraj called for the early finalisation of the India-Gulf Cooperation Council Free Trade Agreement and operationalising the India-GCC Framework Agreement.

Foreign ministers of Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and Oman along with GCC Secretary General Rashid Al Zayani attended the 9th ministerial-level meeting.

Briefing reporters, External Affairs Ministry Spokesman Vikas Swarup said that Swaraj invited the GCC nations to participate in the “Make in India” campaign, in particular the Mumbai-Delhi industrial corridors.

She also called for turning the buyer-seller relationship in the energy sector into a “mutually beneficial investment partnership” that involves both upstream and downstream operations.

Security issues and the threat posed by terrorism also figured in the discussions. She urged them to work for an early conclusion of the Comprehensive International Convention on Terrorism.

The GCC is India’s largest trading partner with $137.7 billion trade in 2014-15, up from 5.5 billion in 2001. More than 50 percent of India’s oil and gas come from the GCC countries that host 7 million Indian nationals.

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